The pairings have been set and the games will get underway this Thursday at the Murphy Center. The following is a preview of the opening round games in Class AAA.
Beech vs. Bearden (1:30 Thursday)
Coach: Darren Joines
Top Players: Reece Chamberlain, John Taylor, Valentino Bryant, Seth Brown
Coach: Mark Blevins
Top Players: Rico White, Ty Greene, Jaeland Lawson, Chris Phillips
The Bulldogs and the Bucs return to the Murphy Center after making an appearance here in last year's tournament. Bearden has changed their M.O. this season relying on the play of a talented foursome of guards and their lone senior Chris Phillips (Bearden) on the interior. Things have remained basically the same over at Beech with senior point man Reece Chamberlain (Beech) leading the boys back to the promise land. John Taylor (Beech) has remained a steady force inside for the Bucs and his play will be vital in this opening game of the AAA schools.
Siegel vs. Melrose (3:15 Thursday)
Coach: Ben Dotson
Top Players: Kerry Hammonds, Cedric Williams, Marc Gooch, Levon Tate
Nickname: Golden Wildcats
Coach: Jermaine Johnson
Top Players: Adonis Thomas, Chris Jones, Nathan Rucker, Bobby Parks, Jr.
The pre-season favorite Melrose did little to disappoint this season, as they survived a small bump in early February to rebound and close out the playoffs with big wins over White Station and a thrashing of Jackson Northside in the sub-state. Siegel suffered through two devastating injuries that could have crippled most teams but they fought back and rode the broad shoulders of up and coming junior Cedric Williams (Siegel) into their state appearance. Siegel welcomes back MTSU signee Kerry Hammonds (Siegel) and possibly Carson Newman signee Levon Tate (Siegel) as they step into the ring with a team predicated on depth and never slowing down till the final buzzer in Melrose. "Mighty" Chris Jones (Melrose) was at his sterling best over the region and sub-state run averaging around 32 plus points per game.
Clarksville Northeast vs. Dobyns-Bennett (5:00 Thursday)
Coach: Al Cooper
Top Players: Telvin James, Alex Poythress, Jeremy Purvis, Greg Magee
Coach: Charlie Morgan
Top Players: Juwon Johnson, Adam Dennison, Tyler Ailshee, Darius Davis
The Eagles of Clarksville Northeast are out to prove they belong among the state's elite on a regular basis. Behind the deadeye shooting of Jeremy Purvis (Clarksville Northeast), the Eagles shot past powerful Bearden last season and with their gaudy 28-2 record they are now officially a state power. Powerful guard play from senior Telvin James (Clarksville Northeast) and a plethora of big inside players led by rising super sophomore Alex Poythress (Clarksville Northeast) lead them into their battle with the scrappy and tough minded Indians of Dobyns-Bennett, a senior laden squad led by forwards Adam Dennison (Dobyns-Bennett) and Tyler Ailshee (Dobyns-Bennett).
Columbia Central vs. White Station (6:45 Thursday)
Coach: Hal Murrell
Top Players: Dominique Parks, Devonte Hamlet, James English, Jarvis Webster
Coach: Jesus Pitino
Top Players: Joe Jackson, Andre Hollins, Nino Johnson, Julian Burton
The defending Class AAA state champions are back with an opportunity to add another gold ball to their already burgeoning trophy case. McDonald's All-American Joe Jackson (White Station) needs no further introduction but his supporting cast may be a bit under the radar for some, yet rising juniors Andre Hollins (White Station) and Nino Johnson (White Station) are as talented as anyone in the tournament. The Spartans will tangle with an athletic Columbia Central team led by senior wing Dominique Parks (Columbia Central) and talented yet inconsistent sophomore Jarvis Webster (Columbia Central). Defensively the Spartans look to senior gridiron star Julian Burton (White Station) and his focus will immediately become Columbia senior guard James English (Columbia Central).